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'Strong action' is coming if the EU doesn't like Apple's App Store concessions

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A European Commissioner has laid down the law, and has declared that Apple will be the target of "strong action" if its compliance with the Digital Markets Act isn't enough.

The EU Digital Markets Act will come into effect in March, and Apple has advised of the changes it will make to comply. While those plans have gathered complaints, the EU itself has warned that Apple faces the prospect of penalties if it fails to do enough to comply with the new rules.

The European Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton told Reuters "The DMA will open the gates of the internet to competition so that digital markets are fair and open. Change is already happening."

Regulators will assess proposals with feedback from third parties starting from March 7, Breton continued. "If the proposed solutions are not good enough, we will not hesitate to take strong action."

Bretton's comments are a warning to Apple and others that there is the possibility of penalties if their proposals don't do enough to meet the terms of DMA. However they do not directly comment on what has been announced.

A spokesperson for the European Commission was similarly careful with their wording, acknowledging Apple's announcements ahead of the March 7 compliance deadline, but declined to comment about them. "We strongly encourage designated gatekeepers to test their proposals with third parties," they added.

Apple's Plans and complaints

On January 25, Apple revealed its changes that will come into effect from March 2024 to comply with DMA. For all users, Apple will start to notarize all iOS apps, regardless of where they're sold.

Developers will be able to offer their own app marketplace in the EU, but they must be approved by Apple and use a human review process, Those stores are also responsible for their own refunds, but they can use alternative third-party payment processors.

At the same time, Apple is changing its fee structure, reducing the standard commission of 30% down to 17%. For apps that stay within the App Store, there will also be a 3% fee for using Apple's payment processing services.

Controversially, all apps not sold via the App Store will be subject to a Core Technology Fee of 0.50 Euro per first-install of an app annually, waived for the first million installs.

Apple's proposals have, naturally, attracted complaints. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek called the fees "extortion, plain and simple," while Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney referred to it as "hot garbage" and a "devious new instance of malicious compliance."